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Baazaar Review

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Director: Gauravv Chawla

Producers: Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Kyta Productions, B4U Motion Pictures, Emmay Entertainment

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rohan Mehra, Chitrangada Singh, Radhika Apte

Public Review : Baazaar

Rajeev Masand

Movie Review: Baazaar

Name this film: a rookie stockbroker gets his wish of working with his hero, a shrewd millionaire trader famed for his relentless pursuit of wealth. The protégé rises fast under his idol’s mentorship, but sacrifices his integrity as part of his deal with the devil.

You’re thinking Wall Street, aren’t you? Well, I’ve just narrated the premise of Baazaar.

While ripping off the major beats of Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning drama, director Gauravv Chawla and his writers relocate the story from the cutthroat corridors of New York’s financial district to the cramped trading floors of the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Saif Ali Khan slips under the skin of ruthless high-roller Shakun Kothari, who’s not so much the wolf of Dalal Street as he is a shark in sharply tailored suits. Swooping in to make the kill anytime he smells vulnerability, never sparing his friends even, Shakun is a man with a cash register in place of a conscience. Saif plays this self-made, self-taught millionaire as an ‘outsider’ who crashed the party and intends to stay till the booze runs out. His Shakun is suave and sophisticated even while executing hostile takeovers through underhand means, but frequently the veneer cracks to reveal his typically ‘angadia’ dimaag and Gujarati zubaan.

In comparison, the character of Rizwan Ahmed, the ambitious but impressionable small-towner who falls under the spell of the unscrupulous tycoon is a lot less interesting. This is your standard narrative of the poor misguided fellow seduced into selling his soul for a piece of the king-sized illusion, but newcomer Rohan Mehra takes an earnest stab at it.

First-time director Gauravv Chawla knows the world he’s putting on screen, taking us into those high-powered South Mumbai boardrooms and glamorous shindigs where tips are exchanged, rivalries ignited, and companies coldly traded. Some scenes pop, like one in which Shakun destroys a competitor even as a religious ceremony unfolds behind them. Or one in which he brazenly engages a regulatory officer who’s raiding
his premises in a cheeky joke.

But scenes like these are few and far between. A big problem is that the film is entirely predictable. The twists can be spotted from a mile away, and the plotting is strictly by-the-numbers. There are way too many songs that stretch the running time, and the filmmakers are unable to bring that tension needed to convey the anxiety of fluctuating stock prices.

Radhika Apte is an unlikely but inspired casting choice as Rizwan’s morally ambiguous colleague and girlfriend, and Chitrangada Singh is appropriately elegant as Shakun’s long-suffering wife, a role that demands little heavy lifting.

It’s Saif Ali Khan’s Gordon Gekko-esque character that is the strength of Bazaar. Saif does amoral characters especially well, and he turns Shakun Kothari into an utterly compelling cold-hearted villain.

Wall Street, with its “Greed is good” punchline, was a timely cautionary tale about the repercussions of limitless greed and ambition. Bazaar, although it makes the same point, does it in far too generic sort of way. It’s far from unwatchable; it just doesn’t
demand that it be watched right away.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five.

Critic Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Komal Nahta

Movie Review: Baazaar

Entertainment’s Baazaar (UA) is the story of a ruthless share bazaar kingpin.

Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan) is a big name in the share market. He has made tons of money by investing in shares and stocks. He is a shrewd Gujarati Jain businessman who can stoop to any level to make money. Shakun lives with his wife, Mandira (Chitrangda Singh), and two little daughters, Alisha (Raddheya Mahendru) and Nayantara (Anika Malhotra).

In Allahabad lives Rizwan Ahmed (Rohan Mehra) with his father, Zulfikar Ahmed (Pawan Chopra), and sister, Aamna (Sonia Balani). Despite coming from a middle-class family, Rizwan has big dreams and he idolises Shakun Kothari. Much against his father’s wishes, Rizwan comes to Bombay and joins a share broking company, Capital Broking, owned by Kishore Wadhwa (Denzil Smith). His single-point agenda is to get close to Shakun Kothari and work under him. At Capital Broking, broker Priya Rai (Radhika Apte) sees a spark in Rizwan and supports him.

Then, one day, Rizwan comes in touch with Shakun Kothari who gets pretty impressed with his brilliance. Shakun Kothari gives Capital Broking a cheque for Rs. 100 crore and asks Rizwan to multiply his money. Rizwan fails at first but just about manages to remain in Shakun’s good books by making some profitable moves.

Shakun commits big frauds in the share bazaar with such finesse that he escapes the hands of law always. SEBI investigators are always after him but have never been successful in nabbing him as yet.

Anyway, soon thereafter, Shakun takes Rizwan under his wings and even starts a telecom company with Rizwan as its major shareholder. Shakun has bribed the minister to grant him licence, which would make the new company rich in a jiffy. But the government policy is changed at the last minute. However, by this time, Rizwan has given his sister’s fiancé a tip to invest all his savings in the telecom company floated by Shakun Kothari and himself.

All hell breaks loose when the new company lands in a terrible mess. Additionally, SEBI launches an investigation into what appears as a fraud. Rizwan is arrested for insider trading.
What about Shakun Kothari? Is the SEBI able to prove Shakun as the fraudster or is Shakun too smart for SEBI? Who has shortchanged whom?

Parveez Sheikh has written an interesting story which keeps the audience interest alive right from the start till the end. It is inspired by Hollywood film Wall Street. But the share bazaar
jargon and the technical aspects of the stock market make the drama class-appealing. The first half is very interesting despite being confusing at places. The post-interval portion is
however, not as interesting and engaging.

Aseem Arora and Parveez Sheikh’s screenplay is quite effective but also class-appealing. A minus point about the screenplay is that it appears to be one of convenience at several strategic points. In other words, some difficult points in the drama are sought to be explained in a fashion that gives the audience the feeling that convenient liberties have been taken. Despite this, the tension in the drama does consume the viewers. The climax is
interesting but the revelation of the catalyst does not come as a shock as the identity of the catalyst is quite predictable. Even for those who are unable to predict the catalyst’s identity, the revelation comes as a downer because it doesn’t have the force or the weight to match up to the drama before the climax.

Aseem Arora’s dialogues are weighty and impactful.

Saif Ali Khan does a very good job as the shrewd Shakun Kothari. He looks nice and plays the businessman with an evil streak, convincingly. Chitrangda Singh uses her facial expressions and body language very effectively to convey her emotions. She looks bewitching. Radhika Apte looks glamorous and acts with effortless ease as Priya Rai. She is supremely natural. Rohan Mehra makes a promising debut as Rizwan Ahmed. His free acting more than makes up for his devoid-of-glamour looks. Manish Chaudhary has his moments as SEBI investigator Rana Dasgupta. Sonia Balani (as Aamna Ahmed), Pawan Chopra (as Zulfikar Ahmed), Ravinder Singh Bakshi (as Balwinder), Deepak Gheewala (as Gaganbhai), Utkarsh Mazumdar (as Chheda), Abhishek Gupta (as Aamna’s fiancé, Anwar), Dr. Mukesh Hariawala (as Chhaganlal Parekh), Ajit Satbhai (as Bipinbhai), Danish Husain (as Dubey), Krunal Pandit (as Mani Shankar), Amit Jairath (as Sanjay Shukla), Vikram Kapadia (as Sandeep Talwar), and Denzil Smith (as Kishore Wadhwa) lend decent support. Vijay Tilani (as Ashish), Martin Jishi (as Venkat), Raddheya Mahendru (as Alisha Kothari), Anika Malhotra (as Nayantara Kothari), Sai Gundewar (as Suhas Sharma), Gaurav Sharma (as Sagar Malhotra), Sahil Sangha (as Vineet Mehra), Devesh (as Shantanu) and Pulkit Jawahar (as Kanai Morarji) are adequate.

Gaurav K. Chawla’s direction is very good. The debut-making director has handled the complex and layered story with a great deal of maturity. Music (Kanika Kapoor, Tanishk Bagchi, Yo Yo Honey SIngh, Sohail Sen and Bilal Saeed) is fair, with one song – ‘Adhura lafz’ (Sohail Sen) – being the best number. Lyrics (Shabbir Ahmed, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Ikka, Jamil Ahmed and Bilal Saeed) are appropriate. Adil Shaikh’s choreography is alright. John Stewart Eduri’s background music is effective. Swapnil S. Sonawane’s cinematography is very good. Amin Khatib’s action and stunts are quite nice. Shruti Gupte’s production designing is of a good standard. Editing (by Maahir Zaveri and Arjun Srivastava) is fairly sharp.

On the whole, Baazaar is a well-made film but it has limited appeal and will, therefore, be liked mainly by the classes. Lack of promotion, and a dull pre-Diwali period ahead will further adversely affect its box-office chances. Business in Gujarat (because of Gujarati characters) and Bombay will be the best. But overall, the film will not be able to prove profitable.

Times of India

Movie Review: Baazaar

Worth your buck

Baazaar Story: Rizwan Ahmed (Rohan Mehra) leaves Allahabad behind and with it, the small-town mentality, too. He moves to Mumbai, a city with soaring skyscrapers and dreams that fly even higher. His one wish is to work with his idol Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan), but the greedy and manipulative world of money, power and the stock market draws Rizwan in, a little too fast.

Baazaar Review: A wily movie character once said, “Greed is good”. It’s a thought that sums up the very concept of stock markets pretty well. Millions of people around the world invest in shares with the ultimate aim of making a quick buck. Baazaar is a film based on the share market and it plays up the idea of morals over money, or vice versa, depending on which character from the film you root for. For audiences saturated with love stories and family sagas, the edgy thrills of a crime drama like Baazaar, can offer a whole new entertainment experience. One of the highlights of the film is Saif Ali Khan’s performance. The streak of grey in his hair is just as sexy as the grey shades of the role. Even though the film has a strong hangover of Michael Douglas’ Wall Street (1987), this thriller about money, money and more money does offer a rich blend of entertainment.

The first thing to note about Baazaar is the fact that it’s a slickly made film. It is based in Mumbai and it chronicles the world of stock brokers, power brokers, businessmen, industrialists and a host of rich and powerful people. The film’s production design by Shruti Gupte captures the opulence of the setting very well. The background score by John Stewart Eduri is in perfect sync with the thriller theme, too. Director Gauravv K Chawla manages to create a gripping atmosphere for most part of the runtime.

The writing by Aseem Arora and Parveez Shaikh is good, but the writer could have avoided a few loopholes. Most of the situations in Baazaar play out identically to the events in Wall Street. The screenplay does take a while to setup the plot, but the second half of the film picks up pace and throws up a few surprises, too. Saif Ali Khan’s character is a shrewd Gujarati businessman and the little Gujarati touches in the dialogue as well as the setting are fantastic. They make the film’s Dalal Street setup look authentic. The characters are all grey and there is no inclination to whitewash the grey shades. Every character in Baazaar has its own moral compass. The narrative could have been tauter with fewer songs.

Saif Ali Khan as a suave, shrewd, but typical Gujarati guy is the best thing about the film. His twang and his good-looks create the perfect air for the character. Saif’s natural finesse adds to the role, but the actor really shines through in the many shades of grey. Debutant Rohan Mehra is pretty good too. The young actor shows ease and control in his very first performance. Radhika Apte is very good in the role of a young and competitive stock broker. Chitrangda Singh and Manish Chaudhary, in smaller roles, still make big impact.

Baazaar uses plenty of stock market jargon and showcases complex ideas like insider trading and financial manipulation with ease. It’s great to see an edgy story unfold in completely new settings in a Hindi film. The movie has a lot of hustle and power play from the world of industrialists, politicians and money brokers, and that makes for a smart investment, especially for movie buffs.

Critic’s Rating: 3.5/5

The Hindu

Movie Review: Baazaar

Collapse at Dalal Street

I have always been intrigued by the cardboard boxes that suddenly spring up on screen in post-liberalisation Hindi films, when a character is fired or resigns from office and has to pack all his belongings away. Quite like the proverbial takeaway coffee in the hands of busy professionals as they rush on the streets of New York. These hallmark images of Hollywood cinema have been getting randomly retrofitted int o Bollywood without any sense of
context. So in Baazaar too, the SEBI investigators keep the paperwork on the dubious dealings of the blatantly unscrupulous market player Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan, styled on Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko in Wall Street) in neat cardboard boxes. This minor quibble aside the unthinking replication of the 1987 Oliver Stone film Wall Street (albeit with a convenient closure) has debutante Rohan Mehra as young, small town broker (Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox in the original). He idolises Kothari but eventually finds himself clashing with him in the stock-trading war.

Capital management, inside information, illegal telecom bids, illicit trading, corrupt governance—all the financial games and jargon play out in a convoluted “back and forth in time” narrative. To honour  Hindi cinema,  the borrowed Western plot is peppered with songs, romance et al. But the film remains resolutely protracted and boring with some laughable lines, especially when it comes to the stereotypical small town-big city divide and
100 metre sprint versus the marathon comparisons.

The only thing noteworthy about Rohan Mehra are his dimples. Khan sports a neat streak of grey hair which keeps coming and going, much like his Gujarati accent. His clipped English/Hindi overrides it most times. Moreover he is unbendingly stiff, stern and deadpan to communicate a rather facetious sense of menace. In the gender-insensitive (also homophobic) world, the women are marginalised in the most cringing manner possible.

Radhika Apte spends most of her time looking at Mehra lovingly and longingly and Chitrangada Singh as Khan’s wife keeps posturing in the name of acting, putting her best pout forward, whether smiling, fighting, arguing or sporting glycerine wet eyes in the name of emotions. Most cringeworthy, however, are the in-film nods to PayTm and Rustomjee group.

Bhawana Somaaya

Movie Review: Baazaar

Shakun Kothari/ Saif Ali Khan is the bull of the stock market and an indulgent father of his two daughters. When a video of him in a spat with a rival gets viral his daughters are ostracized in school and come home crying. That night Shakun tells bedtime stories to his daughters and asks, ‘Who do you like the Batman o the Superman?’ ‘The Superman’ responds the ten-year-old, ‘The Batman does not seem good’. ‘That is the problem’ says Shakun, ‘People assume he is not good’ and that is the crux of the film.

What makes the film interesting is the refreshing premise – the stock market and the stock traders. This is the first time we have an intimate glimpse into the ongoings of the Dalal Street and the director captures the frenzy of the rise and fall of stocks in a manner that is thrilling.

The narrative is energetic, the characters unconventional and the shot taking refreshing. The first half moves like a rocket –  smooth, sharp and precise to an extent that you resent the interval. The second half, unfortunately, slackens in pace and meanders towards a not so surprising climax.

There are many ways to describe this film; you can call it a story of greed and ambition, of power and corruption, a story of a mentor and his protégée or a story of a sprint and a marathon runner.

No story of ambition is ever complete without a battle of the conscience, and the writers cleverly address the morality of the characters engaging their respective families with all the intrigue and complexities.

The plus of the film is the craft, the background score, and the production design. The writers introduce us to the vocabulary of the stock market with references like ‘Out of line’ and ‘Bazaar chalu che’ that add to the narrative. The minus is the dragging second half that could have been edited by 15 minutes.

All the performances do justice. As Mandira who watches Shakun succeed and alter as a man, Chitrangda Singh has sensitive moments. As Priya Rai, colleague and beloved of Rohan Mehra, Radhika Aapte projects many shades to her character. As the young trader who befriends the shark, Rizwan Ahmed/ Rohan Mehra is easily the surprise packet of the film.

Mehra mixes anxiety with ambition and portrays the fear and fire of a small town guy with precision and restraint that is admirable.

And finally Saif Ali Khan, there’s something special about the actor in the manner he inhabits the strangest of characters from contrasting milieus and makes them believable. Clad in silk
dhoti that spreads over a bare chest he is introduced as the affluent community leader greeting ‘Michamidukhdam’ to all and yes, he gets the Gujarati accent right.

Whether he is at home, outside, at work, with confidantes or with his detractors, Saif never loses grip on his character ably facilitated by a detailed screenplay.

Debut director Gaurav Chavla gets well most of it right and deserves a dekho in the theatres. Also, like the Batman and the Superman, it’s interesting how the perception of a title alters from time to time. In the 50s Bazaar told the story of a courtesan. In the 80s Baazaar delved on sale in marriage and in 2018 Bazaar is quite literally about business.

I rate Baazaar with 3.5 stars.

Critic Rating: 3.5/5 Stars


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